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Five blue sheep affected, no spread of eye infection, state tells NGT

The disease affecting bharals came in focus after mountaineer Loveraj Singh Dharamsaktu alerted the chief wildlife warden last year.

dehradun Updated: Feb 09, 2018 21:21 IST
Nihi Sharma
Nihi Sharma
Hindustan Times, Dehradun
Uttarakhand news,blue sheep,eye infection
Bharals are found in the high Himalayas of India, Nepal, Bhutan, and Pakistan. (HT FILE)

The Uttarakhand government, in a reply to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Friday, said only five bharals (Himalayan blue sheep) were found have a mysterious eye infection at the Gangotri National Park, denying spread of the disease among the animals.

The disease affecting bharals came in focus after mountaineer Loveraj Singh Dharamsaktu alerted the chief wildlife warden on September 9 last year. Blue sheep in Kedar Tal were suffering from a strange disease leading to blindness, he said.

After a Delhi-based advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal filed an application about the infection, the tribunal directed Uttarakhand on December 21 to submit a reply.

Chief wildlife warden Digvijay Singh Khati mentioned in his reply that out of 353 blue sheep in the park, as per an estimation of Dehradun based Wildlife Institute of India (WII), only five were found to have eye infection. “The infection was restricted to a very few animals in only one narrow area of the park,” Khati said in his submission to the NGT bench headed by justice Jawad Rahim. N Nanda is the judicial member of the bench.

The affected five blue sheep included two male, one female and two young ones. The other animals -- 57 in Rudragaira Valley, 249 in Nelong Valley and 42 in Gaumukh that includes Tapovan -- were reported healthy, Khati said.

The chief wildlife warden’s letter also said 26 bharals in Srikanth and 30 in Gidara meadows --both falling in the buffer area of the park – were without any symptoms of the dissease.

“As we have mentioned in the affidavit, the infection was restricted to only a few animals -- 5 of which we know. There’s no spread anywhere inside or outside the national park,” Khati said.

The affidavit mentioned that forest department teams visited Kedar Tal area and made 568 observations. “Only two blue sheep were found infected in Bhujkhark area; one was brought down which died later.”

The viscera samples of the animal were sent to Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) in Bareilly, which also did not establish any infection. The institute report said the animal died of a lung infection, Khati’s submission said.

The Gangotri National Park is spread over 2,390 sq km and ranges at an altitude of 2,800 to 7,100 metres above sea level. Bharals are found in the high Himalayas of India, Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet, and Pakistan.

First Published: Feb 09, 2018 21:21 IST